8/7/2014 2:46:00 PM 410th Street project awarded and Andersen Windows gets new silo
by DENISE MARTIN
North Branch City Council voted 4-0 with Council member Furman absent last week, to order the project for paving and improving a stretch of 410th Street and a several-hundred-foot section of Hemingway Avenue. Work begins in August under the timeline from Knife River Corp, which was awarded the bid at approximately $734, 000. At the July 28 assessment hearing the city council heard the completion is set for October 2014, with final touch-ups in spring 2015. The road should stay open, with possible closures at certain key work points of no more than one day. The project is mainly being paid for with state aid funding. Assessments are going to cover only $162,000 of the total project costs. The assessments will be about $6,500 for the directly abutting parcels and $1,800 distributed to each unit in a housing development Walker Hill that has access off the project zone. Property owners have 15 years to pay at 4.5 percent interest, it was announced at the public hearing last week. Plus; there are deferred assessment payments you can apply for (interest-only) for senior citizens 65-plus, disabled, active military and agriculture parcels. Ask at city hall. Due to the inability to notify one property owner, the council waited on taking action adopting the assessment roll until August 11, when the public hearing will reconvene, just to see if that citizen wants to comment.
Skyline addition Andersen Windows is expanding its materials storage capacity and was given a silo permit variance by the council on a 4-0 vote. This silo can be 85 feet tall. North Branch had in its code a 75 foot maximum. Council was advised the site usage amendment will allow Andersen to stock-up on the PVC/wood blend that becomes window framing, and not have to re-supply raw product so often.
Also in the North Branch industrial park-- the old East Central Electric site is becoming a metal recycling facility. The lot, for some reason, had no Conditional Use Permit attached to it regulating the electric co-op use, so council drafted this permit for outdoor storage from scratch. Among the conditions adopted 4-0 are no tire piles, no loose debris, nothing taller than the screen fencing, no crushing, etc. The full permit can be read at city hall.
In an agenda item to extend the length of time that Conditional Use Permits are open, before non-action makes them expire-- council voted 2-2 so the action died. The idea was to give business developers longer than one year from the date of being issued their permit, to get their activity or facility up and running. Council member Borchardt and Mayor Lindquist voted to extend and Council members Jensen and Blomquist saw no justification. Permitees already can file for a one-year extension to the one year window now in the permit and that’s plenty of time. Citizen Glen Boyce was allowed to comment that the city ought to not be “babying” these Conditional Use projects. By the very fact the enterprise needs to get a CUP-- it is not conforming to “normal” identified zoning uses and North Branch should be keeping numbers of CUPs down, Boyce observed. Council okayed unanimously a wage adjustment for the city employees who are not covered in the regular bargaining process. These “non bargaining units” like liquor store staff, clerical, etc. should be treated the same as the others, Council member Jensen remarked. Adjustments include a one percent hike in the city administrator wage retroctive to January. Healthcare premium payment increases or decreases are being shared 50-50 with employee and city.
If you’ve tried and failed to communicate by phone with city officials in recent months-- there’s help on the way. Council approved a new telephone system for city hall. It will be leased through Vatacom for $463 per month. City Administrator Bridgitte Konrad said she had six quotes and recommended this. The phone system was in the Capital Improvement Plan for 2015, so budgeting will need to be juggled to get this in this year yet.